Dude, who was the first person to use the term “Dude”

It was back in 1979 in Chino when I first heard anyone use the term Dude as both a pronoun and adjective. Oddly enough, its originator was a dyed in the wool hick transplant from Arkansas named Chris Foster. Chris used the term dude just as we have been using it since the 80s. If something was cool, Chris used dude much as the rest of us would use the word bitchin. If he agreed with you, then you would receive a dude as confirmation. Likewise if he disagreed with you. He also used dude as a greeting, but if it was used as a goodbye, it would always be preceded with a “later” to form a bastardized, very So Cal version of Aloha.

Chris was a trip to say the least. He had serious game and was bagging the local Chino girls much like he bagged doves; he used a shotgun approach. “It’s a numbers game, Dude.” I first met Chris after my buddy Steve and I heard what sounded like a shotgun being blasted out in the field down the street from Steve’s house. Yes, we were dumb enough to head towards the foreign sound of a shotgun blast. Chris was out rustling up some dinner with a frickin’ shotgun when he discovered that his parents left him home with no suitable food. “Gotta eat, dude.”

Steve and I, both recent transplants to the then then dairy capital of the world, Chino, were curious as to the shotgun blasts coming from what was an old abandoned dairy down the street from his house at the intersection of Preciado and Schaefer. Neither of us knew what a shotgun sounded like. We were city slickers. Neither of us had hoisted anything bigger than a .22 before. Still, being above average dunbshits, we knew a shotgun when we heard it, and curiosity got the better of us. We crossed the street and headed to check it out.

Chris Foster was hiding behind what looked like a 10 year old pile of steer manure, using it as a blind as he uncorked a blast into a flock of doves no further than a football field from the city limits. He must have looked safe enough because we approached him. We knew what he was doing, but we needed to really know the why. As we got closer we both got a serious Elmer Fudd flashback. Chris was dressed in camos with a duck call around his neck. We marveled at his workmanlike approach to bagging the dove meat as he twisted off their heads and scooped the breasts out with his fingers. “Put some flour on ’em and fry ’em up. Taste just like chicken, dude.”

I really don’t know what became of Chris, other than him hooking up with a bunch of Chino girls of all shapes and sizes. (Chris did not discriminate based upon any measure of a woman.) I will say that we spent the next few months making fun of the quirky character from the midwest, mocking his “dude” every chance we got. It was from there that I’m pretty sure it took off dude, and got some wings before it became the signature word of the one of many Golden Ages of Southern California.

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